Personal Finance

One Simple Habit the Vast Majority of Wealthy People Practice Every Single Day

Expertise: Personal Development, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Real Estate Investing Basics, Business Management
42 Articles Written

“The only thing worse than not reading a book in the last ninety days is not reading a book in the last ninety days and thinking that it doesn’t matter” —Jim Rohn

To be successful in real estate investing, you have to take the right actions. A wrong turn could put you back years and cost you a lot of money. There are two ways of learning what works and what doesn’t. You can learn from some one else’s mistakes, or you can make them yourself.

If you want to do anything great, chances are someone has already done it. They’ve also made a lot of the same mistakes you’re likely to make. There’s this funny thing about successful people. They love talking about how they did it: writing books, blogging and giving speeches.

Think about this for a minute. If you read a book of distilled lessons from an investor with 30 years’ experience, have you not gained 30 years of knowledge? How long would it take you to gain that knowledge yourself?


Related: Income Inequality: Are the Wealthy Superior People or is the System Unfair?

“If you listen to instructional CDs as you drive each year, it would be the equivalent of two semesters of an advanced degree in college.” —Brian Tracy

What would happen if you read two investing or business books a month starting now? In a year you would have read 24 books. If each book distilled just 10 years of the author’s investing experience, you would now have 240 years’ of knowledge. In just four years, you would have gained over 1,000 years. How much time and money do you think that will save you? A book costs $15. BiggerPockets is free. What is the cost of making a real estate mistake?

“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” — Warren Buffett

Let’s Look at a Few Statistics

*Where “wealthy” = $160,000 or more annual income and greater than $3.2 million in net worth and “poor” = $35,000 or less in annual income and $5,000 or less net worth.

How to Find Time to Read More (& Make It Count)

Bathroom Reading

I always have a short chaptered book in the bathroom. The One Thing, The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down and Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff are my favorites. You can read and re-read these books.

Car Reading

Audible has a huge selection of affordable business audiobooks available. Most books are 8-15 hours long and easily finished during your work commute.

Making Time Before Work

Most people learn better if they read in the morning. I like to start my mornings reading something educational. If I read in the morning, I can spend the rest of the day reflecting on and trying to implement what I learned.

Related: A Case Against Frugality: Why Pinching Pennies is NOT the Best Path to Wealth


“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” —Jim Rohn

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Every day you choose what you do and you choose what you don’t do. The more you learn from other people, the more successful you’ll be. Warren Buffett, one of the richest people to ever live, spends about 80% of his work day reading. He started this habit when he started investing.

Book Recommendations by BiggerPockets Authors:

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out members newer to BiggerPockets.]

What are the top 5 books that YOU would recommend as must-reads? What’s on your reading list?

Let’s help each other out with suggestions in the comments section!

Brett Lee is a licensed Real Estate Broker in Portland Oregon where he helps people achieve a better future so they can do the things that truly make them happy. Brett is also a buy-and-hold investor, property manager and investment advisor.

    The German
    Replied about 11 years ago
    I believe that the best real estate sales happen in the country side. It is a win-win situation and that is a market that can never slow down. In an area like rural Germany or France, the vistas are so beautiful that people can’t resist it. And the price is also pretty realistic. Nice article and all the 4 points make sense. Thanks 🙂
    Crystal Tost
    Replied about 9 years ago
    I find the advertising in other countries and in mediums that are not real estate related a waster of money and time. I think targeted advertising coupled with good pricing and proper presentation will get the house sold to a local buyer that is likely out there as we speak. Why focus on an audience that you are not even sure exists in mediums that are not targeted?
    David Grbich
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Setting a realistic list price at 10% below market may lead to a very lonely existence as a realtor – not many sellers in the California market have the equity to price 10% below market – but yes that should get the home sold. Great point overall – thanks.
    Karen Rittenhouse Flipper/Rehabber from Greensboro, NC
    Replied about 4 years ago
    There’s always a path to where you want to be. Follow the path.
    Brandon Hall CPA from Raleigh, NC
    Replied about 4 years ago
    I’m curious as to your perspective on how the “reading landscape” changing over the past decade will affect the results of these studies in the years to come. For instance, I read a physical books for 30-60 minutes a day before bed, and potentially more on weekends. I mix it up between “fun” books and self-help books. But I also read a many articles throughout each day related to real estate, finance and money, and accounting via BiggerPockets and other finance related websites. I also read financial studies and reports a couple times a week on things that I am curious about. So I guess the question is: what if we aren’t reading a physical book? Are we doomed? 🙂
    Chris Gibbs Investor from Portland, Oregon
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I have been having trouble finding enough content! What are some of your favorite sites for articles?
    Brett Lee from Portland, Oregon
    Replied about 4 years ago
    You are doing great my friend. Keep it up.
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied about 4 years ago
    It’s hard to understate how many good ideas I’ve gotten from reading books, both in my business and personal life (Hell, I figured out how to quit smoking from reading a book). It’s really too bad so few Americans read much.
    Byron Bohlsen Investor from Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Does reading bp every day count?
    Replied about 4 years ago
    I have read many books over the years and many real estate self help books. At age 75 now, I am dozing off to sleep as I get past the third page.
    Jeremy S. from Elizabeth, Pennsylvania
    Replied about 4 years ago
    I enjoyed this article and agree with it! Whether it is actual reading or listening to an audio book, you will get much more out of it than listening to music or taking a nap with that time. Small decisions made everyday lead to big changes over a lifetime!
    Vania Castillo Investor from New York City, New York
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Reading BP counts!! “Secrets of the millionaires mind” by T.Harv Eker. This book is about mind setting. Unfortunatelly, many people have a “negative programing” that needs to be change to a positive and confident one in order to achieve our goals in life. The concepts can be applied to any area or goal one would like to reac, no just money.
    Colin Reid Investor from Tampa, FL
    Replied about 4 years ago
    I listen to a few podcasts, including BP, while driving, running, etc. I don’t read nearly as much as this article suggests, but I listen to a few hours worth of podcasts a week. Am I ok?
    Angel Rosado from Bronx, New York
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Great article, I think a lot of people are missing the high level view of this article. This is not saying that if you read books you will be in a better position in life it’s saying if you take time to invest in yourself through utilizing others experience ie books, audio books, blogs, or podcast you will be in a better position that you were in yesterday. This article is that we have to be open to being lifelong learners. The statistics noted in the article may be comparing someone who dont read anything at all and those are the poor. Through using these different media outlets you are leveraging essentially doing what the author notes in the article regarding others experience. You will receive ideas that you didn’t think of through the different methods. You will change certain perspectives that you have. I will admit there are certain books that are considered staples in our field such as The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller and Rich Dad Poor Dad. This has repositioned my to thinking andI don’t do enough reading/learning so off I go to Amazon.
    Justin Fernandez Investor from Watertown, New York
    Replied about 4 years ago
    If you have to ask, you aren’t reading enough. I’m just kidding. I do agree with all the content here as I am an avid proponent of self-education. It’s the only education that will save you from you, your own worst enemy, but only if you take action or at the very least apply the principles. I’ve noticed a lot of real estate books are slightly pitching you every other chapter. While I understand, i would love a more in depth analysis than the emotional story and big win since it’s not always the case. I love the Thomas Lucier books for that reason, what’s been a great read for you lately?
    James Syed Real Estate Broker from Mount Olive, IL
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Hello BP. Great article. I have read over 250 books on real estate investing. Most of them borrowed from different libraries. Books were written all the way back to 1800 and as latest August 2015. I also own a variety of books on real estate, business management, etc.
    Kelly Ford Investor from Barnegat, New Jersey
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Phew! I clicked to read this blog to immediately start practicing whatever habit you were going to talk about. I already do this habit, which means the wealth is on the way (with the action behind it, yes). Thank you Brett for speaking the truth; I am so happy that I love to read about others’ successes and learn from them. I see others close to me that hate to read, and they are now figuring out the mistakes on their own. None of us are perfect, but learning by reading about other wealthy people is like gold in your hand.
    Kelly B. Investor from Wausau, Wisconsin
    Replied about 4 years ago
    So true, your life is affected greatly with what you feed your brain AND the people you associate with!
    Nick Lee Investor from Chorley, Lancashire
    Replied about 4 years ago
    What a great article. It seems quite a few people other than me are wondering if they should be doing more. I guess if we feel like that then we should. There is always room for improvement. I do think that as long as your getting your daily ‘fix’ of real estate education then it all counts. If it’s pod casts,books,audio books,or even a chat with your mentor. As long as you work on your dream everyday, that’s what counts.
    Brad Lohnes Investor from Cambridge, Waikato
    Replied about 4 years ago
    I credit this habit as a huge factor in turning around our finances. After we started having kids, it became very difficult to find quiet time to sit down and read a physical book at home. Eventually, someone at work put me onto audio books. I quickly found that I couldn’t listen to fiction and drive at the same time, but self-help? Easy. I’ve downloaded and listened to more than 50 books in less than 3 years. So far, my top 5 would be: 1. Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki 2. Total Money Makeover – Dave Ramsey 3. The Millionaire Next Door – Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko 4. Thou Shall Prosper – Rabbi Daniel Lapin 5. Rich Dad’s Cash Flow Quadrant – Robert Kiyosaki Most of these I’ve listened to at least 3 times each. There are many others, of course, but these have given me a real guide to how I think about and manage my finances. You’ll notice not really anything in there focused specifically on property – I’ve found property books so far to be “ok”, but not great. That might be because a couple of years ago I took a 12-week property investing course and learned a helluva lot. Most of the books I’ve read so far haven’t offered huge insights…though definitely some. A lot of the property-specific books are also US-focused, which is fine for overall strategies but not for specifics. Audiobooks have allowed me to make use of the 20-30 minutes that I spend in the car commuting morning and evening, and the 30-40 minutes working out 3-4 days per week. You can get an awful lot of reading done that way. It’s one of the things that I most recommend to people – get into audiobooks and “read”, “read”, “read”.
    Colin Brennan from Chicago, Illinois
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I am brand new to BP and i found Audible to be a life changer. The hour workout everyday and my 30-45 minute drive have allowed me to consume so much more information than I thought possible.
    Will - First Quarter Finance
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Yes! Thanks for giving me a few new books to add to my list!
    David M. Investor from Cincinnati, Ohio
    Replied about 4 years ago
    The value of reading and constantly gaining knowledge and skills is undoubtedly understated, but statistics like: 88% of the wealthy read thirty minutes or more each day vs. 2% of the poor. 63% of the wealthy listened to audio books during their commute to work vs. 5% for the poor. 85% of the wealthy read two or more self-improvement books every month vs. 15% for the poor. confuse correlation and causation in the most basic way. The poor are much more likely to have attended ineffective schools and to have had parents who did not have the time/life experience to promote literacy. The poor are also much less likely to have their own car, devices to listen to audio books, or commutes that lend themselves to listening to audio books. Pretty much all of Corley’s statistics confuse correlation and causation in this manner. It’s possible, maybe even probable, that it’s not doing all of these things that make you wealthy; instead, being wealthy allows you the time and resources to do these things. Statistics like these are constantly used to shame the poor and abdicate the duty of society at large to provide opportunities for self-advancement by insinuating that the poor are lazy and unmotivated.
    Nick Donato Investor from Denver, Colorado
    Replied over 2 years ago
    thank you!!
    Bryan Miller Investor from Valley Village, California
    Replied 9 months ago
    I’ve been both wealthy and poor in my life. Back when I was poor, I started listening to audio cassettes that I borrowed from the public library… I can tell you all of those Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar and Dennis Waitley audio books made a profound impact. While I understand your concern, and agree that the wealthy have advantages, the beauty of America is that you can start at the bottom income bracket and rise to the top. Another way to look at it is, the poor person without a job has 40-60 more hours per week to read and learn. However, most of them don’t. It’s up to every individual whether they are willing to do what it takes to rise up and create a better life for themselves. Yes, some people and demographics have extra challenges, but everyday in America 1,700 people from all kinds of backgrounds become millionaires. This includes immigrants who arrived here virtually penniless. There are books about how they did it, and they are free at the public library or available on Amazon for $20. One of those lessons I learned on those audio tapes was “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom”. I still strive to apply this everyday.
    Stewart VanValkenburg from Provo, Utah
    Replied over 2 years ago
    During the years when I didn’t have a working car I would take the bus a lot. The bus is actually far better for reading than driving my own car would be. It’s actually better for listening to audio books than a car because there are less distractions. Plus, it takes twice as long to get anywhere so you have more time to listen or read. A cheap mp3 player costs about $3. A library only costs the late fees. I do agree with you about ineffective schools and less parental urging towards reading.
    Ayodeji Kuponiyi Investor from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
    Replied about 4 years ago
    It’s a shame people take a skill like reading for granted. Reading, especially for a purpose, can have a dramatic effective on our lives if reflected upon and implemented. It’s because of reading different kind books that lead me to find my passion in real estate which led me to Bigger Pockets and listen to podcasts and read articles and books. Reading is really fundamental and has changed many lives.
    Replied about 4 years ago
    I couldn’t agree more. I think that it’s important to not overlook things like reading the news as a part of self improvement. Additionally, I’ve taken courses online that have been entirely in video format that have been very helpful for my career. Getting better is going to help you increase your wealth.
    Replied about 4 years ago
    This article is so important and really made me realize I need to read more. It is interesting, recently I have been thinking there are a few books and bloggers that have changed my life more than anyone I know. I got smart with my money, became vegetarian, and have started living a minimalist life style because of the knowledge I acquired from strangers. These strangers have helped me find the path to my own happiness through their knowledge and have enriched my life. I now make decisions that help me and make my life better. Thank you I am going to be reading like crazy now!!! 🙂 Great points.
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Great read and great advice! I’ve written a number of articles on my page about how to maximize your time – ideas like picking up a book and reading a page or two while your computer is starting up or reading something inspirational on your phone between sets at the gym. You’re 100% right that knowledge compounds. I wish I had started reading younger, but I was one of those who didn’t think it was important. Now I can’t stop reading! I’ve listed a number of good reads in this category on my “Good Reading” page, if you’re interested. Keep up the good work! -DP
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Great read and great advice! I’ve written a number of articles on my page about how to maximize your time – ideas like picking up a book and reading a page or two while your computer is starting up or reading something inspirational on your phone between sets at the gym. You’re 100% right that knowledge compounds. I wish I had started reading younger, but I was one of those who didn’t think it was important. Now I can’t stop reading! I’ve listed a number of good reads in this category on my “Good Reading” page, if you’re interested. Keep up the good work! -DP
    Replied about 4 years ago
    The biggest problem I have with respect to reading is triage: what to read first, or at all, given the time I have. A trip to the library or bookstore is overwhelming–so much interesting stuff to read, so little time!
    Brad Lohnes Investor from Cambridge, Waikato
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Use the power of Google! 🙂 I am always searching for lists of good personal finance, investment, property, motivational or related books. In fact, I found because of a Top 5 Books list that was by Brandon Turner. Other mechanisms are useful too. If I really like a book/author, I’ll follow them on Twitter, at least for awhile. Sometimes their feed is useful and they introduce you to other authors, books or sources of information. It helps if you then keep a list somewhere. I have an account at, and whenever I find a new book that looks interesting, I add it to my wish list. I usually only buy one book per month, but when my new credit arrives, I just pick something off of my wish list. Usually by then, there’s at least one title that I’m dying to read. Good luck!
    Jason @ Phroogal
    Replied about 4 years ago
    YES to self-improvement books. They are a clear asset to so many people. Never. Stop. Learning.
    Minh Le Investor from San Jose, CA
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Great advice Brett.
    David White from Edgewood, Maryland
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Great article. I plug my earbuds in my phone and listen to the BP podcast at work (even though I shouldn’t lol). Recently I started reading again as I haven’t consistently read books since school. Every now and then I would get a book and read it. But it wouldn’t be consistent. I now have a beginning goal of 1 book a month.
    Donald Capwell Flipper/Rehabber from COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Am I the only one that noticed Brandon’s book in Brett’s bathroom? Lol… (I have it on my iPad, though, which I also take into the bathroom!!) I used to read a lot when I was young, but life,mfamily and the “pursuit of happiness” kept me distracted. When I lost my j-o-b 4 months ago, I started reading again and am glad I have. Some of my recent favorites: – The Bible (Book of Proverbs – God has a lot to say about money and investing!) – All the guides here on BP – The One Thing – The e-Myth Revisted – Millionaire Real Estate Investor – Flipping Houses Exposed (Danny Johnson from right here on BP) – Brandon’s extremely wordy-titled book about low/no money down is also very informative I just cracked the spine on Start with Why by Simon Sinek, and will cue up J Scott’s books about rehabbing after that, since that is my strategy for short term investing… If you want great self-help books about people and leadership, anything that John Maxwell has written is great!! I haven’t done audio books, yet, but prefer to read on my tablet or a physical copy. I like to mark the pages and take notes… Happy reading…
    Mayo Higuera from halmstad, Sweden
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Great post…
    Ryan Scott Isacksen Property Manager from Castro Valley, CA
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Get a library card for your local library and the app Overdrive. You can ‘check out’ e-books and audio books from the library. Not all titles are in the library digital collection, but there are some interesting things that you may get a chance to listen to that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
    John Daley Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Consistent reading won’t make you wealthy…it’s not a formula…but it is a strong indicator that wealthy individuals are those who are constantly seeking knowledge and insight to apply to their daily lives. But application of that knowledge could also be called the ‘simple habit’ that the wealthy do. Good encouragement, Brett, and right on.
    Tim Puffer from Lansing, Michigan
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Spot on! Most people that I went to school with don’t read anymore. They say, “I’m not taking any classes so I don’t need to read.” IT’s sad that this is the thinking of a lot of people. Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss is a great book for short chapters as well.
    Lewis Christman Financial Advisor from Macungie, PA
    Replied over 1 year ago
    While I agree and don’t do enough reading myself one quote I like is “knowledge is not power – action is”. Not sure who said this but I greatly agree with this. Read and put it into action, don’t read and create action (you will learn by doing) but just reading and no action is not the path in my opinion. If you ever see the Trade Like Chuck info commercial read the fine print (if you can read quickly and have good eyes). They admit most wont finish the book or do anything.
    Costin I. Rental Property Investor from Round Rock, TX
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Check out
    Christopher Smith Real Estate Agent from Gulfport, MS
    Replied 9 months ago
    I thought I was the only one that loved reading?! Well these days with long hours at work and my commute. Id read as much as I use too, but audiobooks save the day! I use to use Audible but Scribd is so much cheaper.
    Roderick Mills Jr. from Cincinnati, OH
    Replied 8 months ago
    Reading is great and let’s you get to higher ground! Reading is potential knowledge and you should read and apply what you’re learning about not read just to say you read and to sound deep.